I usually do not enjoy potatoes. I don’t like them mashed or baked, I don’t seek out french fries or chips (although I’ll eat them if they’re in front of me), and just the thought of potato salad makes me a little queasy. So I was a little surprised when I realized that potatoes played a starring role in dinner two out of the past three nights. First, there was the gnocchi. And then last night there was pierogi. Yummy, potato-y pierogi.
I made this recipe for the first time last fall and it was a complete and utter flop. Not only did it fail, it failed on a night when John’s sister and her boyfriend came over for dinner. It was my first time boiling potatoes and I completely undercooked them. So the filling ended up lumpy and gross, and I was terribly embarrassed. I was somewhat redeemed by the apple tart I made for dessert, but I still feel badly about that dinner. Knowing that the failure was entirely my fault, I put the recipe aside with intentions of making it again. It took a few months to get there, but I’m glad I finally did.
This time I was careful to cut the potatoes into very small pieces and cook them for a good long time. I also adjusted the recipe a little to make cheesy pierogi. With the wonton wrappers, these pierogi aren’t exactly authentic, although they taste delicious. However, I’m not sure that the time saved with the wonton is worth it. The wonton didn’t detract from the taste, but it didn’t add anything either. Either way, filling all those dumplings is just too time-consuming for a weeknight, so I’m not sure if there’s any point to taking the shortcut. Next time I make them I’ll do it the “right” way, and I’ll be sure to compare and contrast between the two.
Filling all those pierogi took forever and a day. However, there’s now a large bag full of pierogi in my freezer (right next to the gnocchi) that will take care of three weeknight meals once school starts again. Not only that, but I won’t even have to remember to take anything out of the freezer in the morning. Cooking during the week can be a bit of a struggle for me, so that’s a good thing. But if a freezer bag full of pierogi doesn’t fill you with the same delight and you aren’t feeding a crowd, you should probably halve the recipe.
Quick Cheesy Pierogi
Time: Roughly two hours, although it truly depends on how quickly (or slowly, in my case) you are able to fill the dumplings.
Yield: About six servings
Note: Use whatever mix of cheeses you want. I used the ones I did because they were what I had on hand. If you prefer not to brown the pierogi, you can omit that step.
4 or 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 onions, finely chopped
3/4 cup Double Glouster, grated
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
salt and black pepper to taste
1 or 2 packages of wonton wrappers
Cook the potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Drain and mash in a bowl. Once mashed, mix in the cheeses.
Melt the butter in a large heavy frying pan and cook the onions until they soften then lightly brown, darkly browned in spots. Mix the onions in with the potatoes and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Using a round cookie cutter or tracing around a drinking glass with a sharp knife, cut 10 to 12 wrappers at a time into circles, discarding the extra. Working one at a time, brush the edge of the round wrapper with water and place a spoonful of filling in the center. Fold dumpling in half, pressing the edges together to thoroughly seal.
Place each dumpling on a parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheet and repeat until all filling has been used. If you are planning to freeze them, put the baking sheet into the freezer until the dumplings feel solid and then gather them into a resealable bag. When you’re ready to eat, cook them directly from the freezer, adding an extra minute of cooking time.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the frying pan. Add the pierogi to the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon directly into the frying pan and lightly brown. It should take about 2 minutes on each side. Serve however you prefer.